Quiet Spaces

I’ve been soaking up all the Clarkson goodness I can lately. Listening to “The Lifegiving Parent” on audio book and completing “The Lifegiving Home” in actual type and page format. Trying to get some guidance on how to build our home culture in this season of parenting.

The chaos is in full swing with our summer break almost complete, and I’ve felt the need to have intentional quiet time for my kids. And, especially, for me. We have a mix of introverts and extroverts, but we all tire of one another at some point. The Clarksons recommend having a small space in our homes that each kid can call their own. A place of retreat and personalization. A solace in the midst of the crazy pace of large family life. Quiet Box Loot

We already have a natural rhythm of “rest time” in the afternoon once lunch is completed. But I’m so tired of screens, guys. Tired of the filth that’s out there. Tired of the fights over which games are wholesome, which shows are worthy of watching. It’s absolutely wearing to keep the cheap pleasures out of our home–a place I so want to be a balm, a refuge, a refreshment.

So, based on the recommendations of the Clarksons, I’ve decided to set aside an hour of our every day for quiet. Each kid has chosen a corner–a space where they can read, rest, write, draw or create. Today we went shopping for their baskets and their choices of fillings. They had a budget, and with a bit of guidance, they picked out whatever they desired.

It was such a joy to see them make their lists and begin to make selections at the store. Blankets, pillows, markers, puzzles, glitter glue, pens, paper, and envelopes.

When we arrived home, they excitedly opened their goodies and began organizing their baskets. Once completed, they anxiously walked to their spaces, and quiet time commenced.

Guys, my kids are crazy full of energy. I had a feeling I would be spending my hour gently coercing each child back to their corners. And while that did happen a bit, they truly soaked up this time! (And I did tell them surprises would appear periodically in the boxes of those who stayed in their spaces). Some made necklaces, others drew pictures, some rested, and others read their library books. I’m sure tomorrow may look different. That’s how training works, right? Ups and downs and bumps along the way. But, oh, how I pray making this a part of our cycle will help create a space of calm and creativity and refreshment for each of our souls.

 

 

 


Your turn! Is it tough for your family to rest? How have you been intentional about creating calm in your daily schedule?

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You Chose To Homeschool. Now What?

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More and more families in our circle are choosing to homeschool. Woohoo! But with all the excitement comes a lot of, where in the world do we even begin? So many methods, so many great curriculum options, so many co-ops, so very many gurus to follow.

I have not been at this very long, but I’ve learned a few things along the way as I’ve sought to teach our four young kids. Here are some important places to start:

  1. Sit down and write out your vision for homeschooling. Why did you choose to do this? What do you hope to gain? List out several thoughts, then form them into one cohesive sentence. If you work out of a single purpose, you are much less likely to lose your mind on the hard days.
  2. Pick up Cathy Duffy’s 102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum. Start by taking the test to determine what style of homeschooling might be best for your teaching style and your family’s learning style. Browse her recommendations to get an idea of what’s out there.
  3. DON’T PURCHASE ALL YOUR CURRICULUM AT ONCE YOUR FIRST YEAR. Borrow from friends. Check out some options from the library. Try out various methods and curriculum to get a feel of what works best for you. No two families are the same. You don’t want to buy $300 worth of books only to realize it just doesn’t work for you.
  4. Decide how many weeks you want to school and how often you’ll take breaks. Many families plan for 36 weeks of schooling. Some follow public school guidelines for time off, some choose to school for six weeks, then break for one, others school through the year taking short breaks throughout. Look at a calendar, plan out which weeks you’ll focus on schooling, which weeks you’ll take off, and plan to have some flexibility. This allows for illness, spontaneity and unforeseen events.
  5. Rather than having set educational goals, first work on cultivating a love for learning. These are sweet times. These first months set the tone for the rest of your homeschool experience. Visit museums. Invite interesting people into your home. Travel your state. Explore nature. Study the stars. Read aloud well-written stories, even to your teenagers, as you savor homemade cookies and steamy cups of tea. Enjoy your family and set the stage for a loving and welcoming learning environment in your home.
  6. Give yourself heaps of grace. You’re going to feel like you’re failing your kids, you’re not doing enough, you need more money to buy more and better curriculum, etc. Go back to your vision statement. Pray. Ask God to guide you as you seek to live out His will in your home. Homeschooling is not public school at home. It’s going to look different. And that’s okay!

You’ve got this, mom and dad! I’d love to hear from you and help you along the way. You’re not alone on this educational journey!

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My Days Are Numbered

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Yours are, too, although we don’t know the exact number. No, you may not have a formal diagnosis. You may only now be reaching adulthood. But your time here is limited. Short.

If I make it to 80, I have 2,444 weeks left. That’s it, folks.

Lately it seems as if God is trying to get my heart and my mind around this truth. I’m not sure why, exactly. If He’s preparing me for my own end or motivating me to live in boldness and obedience. Regardless, I want to hear and respond.

The Repeated Exhortation

I was listening to “The Lifegiving Parent” audiobook when I was first reminded of it. “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” Clay Clarkson uses this Psalm to explain the importance of teaching our kids how to number their days by making a plan each year, even the youngest in the family. Helping them to see that time goes by quickly and how vital it is that we use the moments God gives us wisely. The best way we can train our children in this is by living out this truth ourselves and by teaching our children to intentionally map out how they will spend their days–setting goals in all areas of their lives.

And just a few days following, I was preparing our study of Ephesians, and I came to chapter five: “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Redeeming the time. Buying it back. Understanding God’s will and living in obedience to it. Christ came, lived a sinless life, died a sinner’s death upon a cross, and rose again–defeating death! So if we confess our sin and believe in Him, we have the opportunity, the blessed choice, to use our every breath for the glory of His name. Meaning. Purpose. A legacy worth leaving.

Acquaintances facing their last days, family members aging, my little babies becoming preteens, cancer and car accidents and heart failure and meningitis. I’m feeling the brevity of our time here. Yet, it’s not fear taking over. I know God is good and that I will spend an eternity basking in His glory and provision. But I do have this sense that I’ve got to be more intentional about my days, our days.

What Would You Do?

How might you live if you knew today was your last? This is a quite overused question, but when it’s coupled with an overwhelming sense of the validity of the possibility, I wonder how it might prompt us to live?

Because, I don’t know about you, but I’d do a whole lot less complaining and whole lot more speaking thankfulness. A lot more cuddling and a lot less sighing at another human touching me. I’d leave my phone in the other room and look my people in the eye as they ask me for help and excitedly tell me about the wildlife they encountered in our backyard. I would unashamedly declare to my neighbors and my waiter and my high school friends how Christ has set me free from sin and how desperately I want them to know that new life. I’d say hello to the person behind me in line and ask them how they’re really doing. I’d knock on my neighbor’s door and invite them over for dinner, no matter what my home looked like or what food I had in the fridge. I’d call that friend who hurt me and ask forgiveness for holding onto bitterness for so long.

I wonder what choices and changes you would make?

I’m sure you could speak with any parent of adults or teens, and they’d tell you how fast it all goes. So if you’re in the throws of parenting young children like me, how will you train your kids to make the best use of their days? They won’t be in our care for long. We must equip them to eventually lay out a roadmap for themselves and to pursue wisdom through knowing God more and joyfully obeying His will for their lives.

Hey friend, today could be your last. Either way, all our days are numbered. I hope you sense the weight of that today. And that, rather than prompting fear and desperation, it leads you to choose wisely what you fill your minutes with. To examine what kind of legacy you will leave behind. And to rightly assess those things that matter for eternity.

 

Getting Back to Gratitude

Soft hues of white blue begin to glisten through the blinds. I turn to the other side. Reposition the pillows. Move the cold one to my cheek and snuggle in a little tighter. I hear the lid to the toilet loudly close across the house. One child is up. Must be the boy. Feet pitter patter toward my room. Please let them not wake the others. I just want a few more minutes of quiet.

In no time, it’s all yellows and oranges and purples. But I don’t really see it. Because I’m intercepting another argument. Number three already in the ten minutes since I rolled dizzily out of my bed. Two kids chase each other as they loudly sing and jump on the couches.

Coffee is brewing. English muffins toasting. Greens sautéing. Take my medicine. Plate for you, plate for you. Jam and butter. Here ya go. Okay. Breath. Time to make mine. “Mom!! he has my car!! Give it back!!” “Mom!! What’s the weather going to be like today?” “GET OUT OF MY ROOM!!”

I sigh heavily. Our neighbors are bound to call the police with all this yelling at 6am.

woman-1006100_640Why? All I want to do is sit here in quiet and prepare my heart and my mind and my body for the day. Isn’t that a good thing? Why? Day after day after day? These kids are driving me crazy. What in the world have I done wrong? How do all these delightful people get up at 4:30am to be alone with the Lord while drinking their tea or coffee from perfect pretty vintage china in utter silence as the day dawns? How do their children not wake up from the light or the sound of the coffee pot?? Are they magic kids? Ninja moms? Maybe we just need a different home. Maybe I just need to get away. Maybe I need to finally buy one of those colored alarm clocks for everyone. Maybe…

Maybe I just need a change of heart. A shift in perspective.

“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

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Rejoice in this? Rejoice?

“…but instead, let there be thanksgiving.”

“…giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ…”

Maybe I need to see all the lovely again. And give thanks.

Today begins a mission. An intentional growth in gratitude. Today begins me seeing the gifts in the hard. Noticing the sunrises, even if there’s screaming as a backdrop. Because I’m thankful those beautiful lungs have air within them to scream and it’s a new day full of new mercies. I’m going to write down why I like my children and why I’m so thankful to be a mom and wife and teacher. I’m going to ask the Holy Spirit to help me notice the blessing. I’m done complaining and being the victim and swimming in discontent. So today begins #gettingbacktogratitude. And I’m asking you to join me. For the next 30 days, see the beauty in the frustrating. Note it. Write it down. Like, actually, get some pen and paper or your phone and mark it. Rejoice with me. And let’s ask God to change our hearts as He changes our perspectives. I can’t wait to hear all about it.

 

You Say It’s Important. But How in the World?

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Today we’re continuing on with the how of being in God’s word. We know we need Him. We know His word is life to us. If you missed the first post (here), set aside some time to read and pray through that first. Then grab a warrior’s snack and come back to this post to talk about fleshing this out.

HOW?

I know many of you might be thinking this: Colette, I totally get that studying and knowing God’s word is important now, but how in the world, in the midst of this chaos, can we add in one more thing? I have zippety-do-da moments to myself in the day. And if I do get those, I’m thinking staring at a wall sounds very intriguing.

And I get that. Girl, do I ever. But I want to lead us into a different way of thinking. I want to invite you to pray for a hunger for God and for His word again. Rather than it being something we have to add to our long list of to-dos for the day and areas to feel like we have failed once again, I want us to pray that our desire for God and His word would grow.

But hear me out, don’t just wait for that feeling. For feeling a love for God and then jumping into His word. Because I truly believe learning more about who God is through His word will grow our love for Him, and we will become hungrier and hungrier for truth.

Jen Wilkin, Bible teacher and author of “Women of the Word”, says it likes this, “…the heart cannot love what the mind does not know. As we feast on it more and more, as our minds grow in the knowledge of God and His beautiful meta-narrative of creation, fall, redemption and restoration, our hearts will begin to grow in delight.”

So what will this look like?

1. We need to learn how to study God’s word and begin to rightly study God’s word.

The Bible was not formed as a one-minute devotional. I think so often we come to the word for a spiritual and emotional fix and anticipate to leave ready to take on the day. That’s not what the Bible was made to do. It can do that at times, but we do it an injustice when we constantly approach it as such. That makes it all about us. The Bible is a book about God, primarily. Jen Wilkin describes what we often have as the drive-thru mentality. We expect to come to the word, pay a little, and get a nice cheeseburger and fries to last us a few hours. Chicken soup for the soul. But we need to be viewing God’s word as a sit-down, 5-course meal. Where we savor and study and speak to the chef and learn about the dishes being placed before us.

The best way we can do this is to take one book of the Bible and camp in it. Meditate on it. Learn about the setting and history, look up words in the English dictionary, understand the author’s intent and what it means for us today.

Now, girls, this might not look like a set aside 5:30 am to 7:30 am study time every morning. I get that. It’s going to look different for us. But maybe you can schedule one night to yourself each week to do a greater study of the passage and then continue to read through and absorb it throughout the rest of the week.

2. Meet with a small group to dig deeper into God’s word.

Be active in a local church. We need to be hearing the word of God preached and discussing our studies in greater depth in a community. Having that accountability will help to keep us steady in the word. It also helps us know if our interpretation is correct or straying away from the text.

It seems to be a growing trend that mothers of young children hold off engaging with a church until the kids grow out of naps and are on an easier schedule. Yes, your child may be crankier the next day. They might have a delayed lunch or throw an all-out tantrum in the parking lot. I know it is not easy, but I promise you, the fruits and rewards of diving into real community and being active in a local church are completely worth it. The blessings outweigh the difficulties and frustrations.

3. Keep Bibles opened around your home.

I’m keeping with the food analogies here. It’s like those times when you get to go on a fancy date with your husband. And you’re looking at the menu and thinking the salad or maybe some small chicken dish. But then you see the gigantic steak at the table next to you. You didn’t even know you were hungry for it until you smelled the aroma and beheld the sizzling goodness.

This is one of those practices that really does help. If you walk by and notice the Bible opened, your eyes can catch a few verses, and you’re more likely to stop and read it in the in-between times.

Keep your Bible opened in an area you pass by often. And if you have more than one, spread them out, opened, around the house.

4. Memorize it.

Memorizing helps us to meditate, to have it consistently on our minds. And doing that in chapters or chunks helps us to know it in its context. Janet Pope wrote a very helpful book on how to do this in the midst of the young mothering days. We can memorize when we do the laundry, when we sit with the kids at the playground or wait in the pick-up line. Do it with your kids along with hand motions and songs. It’s as simple as putting down our phones and picking up verses in the down times. Choosing to spend ourselves on something of eternal value in a moment we could waste on fleeting pleasures. Now, I say simple, but it’s a battle, moms. It’s hard. But possible.

5. Read and study the Bible with your kids. 

Sometimes getting away just isn’t going to happen. Our kids need to see how important God’s word is to us. You don’t have to wait until there’s utter silence to dive in. Read it in front of them, to them. Talk about the truths you’ve been learning.

6. Lastly, listen to and sing about it.

If you’re in a stage of life when your hands are often tied, download an app that allows you to listen to the Bible read. The Holy Bible and ESV apps both have these options included. This is a great way to absorb Scripture while nursing, exercising, or doing household chores. Even in the car!

Hymns are just rich with spiritual truth and God’s word. Incorporate singing into your work time and play time with the kids. Find songs that sing verses. Songs that point you to the gospel and who God is.

Friends, if you read these posts and remember nothing more, I want you to hear this. Don’t forsake God’s word in this season. You don’t know if you’ll even get to the next season, really. As a child of God, you have everything within you to choose Him, to choose His word. And we need it. More than our minds can know. We need Him. And our kids need Him. We have the blessed opportunity to point them to the gracious God that has rescued us and redeemed us.

Satan wants us to see the poop stains and feel the pull on our shorts and smell the vomit in the carpet and throw in the towel. He wants us to run away to Facebook and Netflix and chick-flicks and forsake the merciful, loving God, who loves us in our mess. We need Jesus, Moms. And we need God’s word as an anchor of truth and a reminder of what is eternal.

I want to leave you with Psalm 1. And as I write, I am praying this over you. I would love for you to read this out loud with me. See the pictures that the Psalmist is painting of what our lives can be like rooted in the rich soil of God’s word.

Psalm 1

“How happy is the man who does not follow the advice of the wicked or take the path of sinners or join a group of mockers! Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night. He is like a tree planted beside streams of water that bears its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. The wicked are not like this; instead, they are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not survive the judgment, and sinners will not be in the community of the righteous. For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to ruin.”

Rather than the way of sinners and the advice of others, I pray we will choose to be rooted and established in the word of God. That we will delight in Him and His word, even in the midst of the craziness we call life. And that, in due season, we will have drawn from His waters so deeply and so consistently, that our roots go down deep and that we will bear fruit to the glory of His name. Useful. Thriving. Because we are anchored in His word and know Him in such beautiful and intimate ways.

 


*Many of these thoughts and teachings were a result of listening to podcasts from Revive our Hearts. I’m so thankful for their commitment to teaching the word of God.

No More Waiting to Thrive (Part Four)

Today we wrap up five reasons why it’s worth it to choose to be planted in God’s word–to study it, meditate upon it, pray it, sing it, read it.

4. We need God’s word to help us flee sin.

Hebrews 4:12 is a wonderful testament to this:

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

The farther we get away from God’s word, the more likely we are to think everyone else is at fault, and I’ve got this figured out. We need the beauty of the light of God’s truth to shine into our hearts and expose that filth. That’s grace, moms. It’s grace that God invites us into that. Why? Because, yes, He exposes it, but He doesn’t leave us there in condemnation. And that leads me to number 5, and our last point.

5. We need God’s word to remind us of the gospel.

We need that cutting to the division of soul and spirit. We need that discernment of our thought and heart intentions. We need to remember that we were dead.

But we also need the glorious hope that we have been bought, adopted, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, and are now lavished with grace. We are now alive!

We need to be consistently reminded of the grace that is ours and our current place seated at the right hand of Christ.

Paul Tripp, a well-known pastor and teacher, often says, “Nobody talks to you more than you do. You are the most influential preacher in your own life. What message are you preaching to yourself?”

God’s word can change our thinking. As children of God, we want His thoughts to be our thoughts. We want to think and live and breathe gospel. We must be steady in God’s word to remember what that gospel is. We need His truth to change our thinking and for our minds to be renewed.

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The gospel revolutionizes the way we respond to difficult, uncontrollable children and situations. It reminds us to love because Christ first loved us. It helps us to serve those we desire to lead. The gospel tells us that we can care deeply and patiently for that strong-willed child because God so loved us that He sent his Son as the sacrifice for our sins. And that love, that redeeming love, fills us to overflowing.

Why return to God’s word? Why study it? Why make it central to our lives in the midst of these crazy, full days? Because there’s a battle being waged, and we need to remember that and have the armor to stand firm and the sword to fight Satan’s schemes. Because we need to be able to know truth from error. Because we need the reminder to flee isolation. Because we need the word to help us see and flee sin, and because we need to remember the beauty of the gospel and have that shape our thinking and the way we interact with those around us.

Next post, we’ll dive into the how. How, in the middle of absolutely crazy can we add in one more thing? What will that even look like? I’m praying for us all even now, that God will grow our hunger for His word and set forth a plan to integrating the study of it into our daily routine. It’s worth it, friends. So worth the fight.

No More Waiting to Thrive (Part Three)

Why in the world would I exhort you to choose God’s word? Every day? To give it precedence and feast upon it as it was meant to be digested? Why? Today we’ll look at two more reasons why I think it’s so very important.

2. We must be steady in God’s word to be able to discern truth from error.

Let’s go to I John 4:1-6:

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listen to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”

Hear me out. We cannot detect what is false when we don’t know what is true.

We are living and breathing in an age where everyone has an opinion and has a platform to make that opinion heard. We, as moms, are constantly reading blogs and articles and books and listening to podcasts on parenting and taking care of self and confronting issues that our children will face. truth-257160_640

How can we know what is truth in the midst of all of this?

 

We’ve got to test it. We have to hold it up to the light of God’s word and see how it lines up. Does this statement or opinion point us to Christ? Does it shine the gospel? Does it fall in line with the entirety, the whole of God’s word?

Ephesians 5:6-10:

“Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partakers with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of the light (for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.”

Satan loves to twist the truth in order to deceive us—we see that in the very beginning in the Garden. We can only discern what is pleasing to the Lord by knowing and studying His word.

3. We need the reminder to flee isolation.

We have a tendency as mothers to remove ourselves from true, biblical community because we’re ashamed or embarrassed of the way we look or act or the person we have become or the lack of time we have to give to the church. Motherhood certainly changes us. We need God’s word to push us back toward Bible-based, gospel-focused fellowship.

iStock_000010429015XXLargeSo let’s say we’re studying Ephesians, and we come to Ephesians 4 where Paul is describing how vital the whole of the body is—each person, each part, doing what they were gifted to do—for the purpose of the church declaring the gospel. We’re reminded that we need to speak truth to one another in love and grow up together into Christ. We’re reminded in Ephesians 5 that we should be encouraging one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs and submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

God’s word reminds us how vital community is. No matter what stage of life we’re in. We need our family of God.


Come back tomorrow as we explore the last of the five reasons we should be digging into His word in the midst of the crazy. Can’t wait to see you then!